« PreviousContinue »
stand with your souls? Why are you not able, what is it that could hinder you, if you were but willing ?
2. Yea further, Consideration is so cheap a remedy, that if you will not use this, you despise your souls : yea, and you despise the Lord himself, and the everlasting things which
you are called to consider of. A man that is in danger of losing his estate, or health, or life, and will not so much as bethink him of a remedy, doth sure set light by them, and lose them by his contempt. A man that hath had but his house on fire, and would not so much as think how to'quench it, doth deserve that it should be burnt. If
your parents, or children, or friends were in distress, if you would not so much as think of them, it were a sign you did not set much by them. Why, sirs, are not your souls worth the thinking on? Is not God, is not your Redeemer, worth the thinking on? And yet you will hypocritically pretend that you love God above all, when you will not so much as seriously think of him; how can you shew greater contempt of any thing, than to cast it out of your minds as unworthy to be thought on? And how can you more plainly shew that you despise God and heaven, than by such a course as this? If it be not worth the thinking on, it is worth nothing.
3. Consider that God doth not set so light by your salvation. He thought it worth a great deal more : must Christ think it worth his bloody sufferings, and with such a life of labour and sorrow, and will not you judge it worth your serious considerations? If he had not thought on it, and thought again, how miserable should we have remained ! Ministers also must think on it, and study how to save your souls. And should you not study how to save your own ? Must another man make it the business of his life to think how to do you good, that you may be saved, and are you not as much bound to do good to yourselves? Yea, all that fear God about you, are bound to study to do you good; and should you not bethink you
then of the things that concern your own good ?
4. Moreover, what have you your reason for, but to consider; and wherein do you differ from the beasts, so much your reason
have reason, and will not use it, you brutify yourselves; you live like madmen; for what is madness, but a loss of the use of reason? And do you think it a small thing to deface so noble a creature as man, and to
? If you
turn yourselves into beasts and madmen? Do you think that God will not call you to account for your reason, how you have used it? Doubtless he gave it you for a higher employment, than to enable you to plough, and sow, and follow your trades, and provide for your flesh. If this were all that a man did exceed a beast in, what a silly, wretched wight were man? Yea, so much more miserable than beasts, as his knowledge begets more care, and sorrow, and fear, than theirs. What matter is it for having reason at all, if it be not that we may use it for the matters of God, and eternal life?
5. Moreover, your soul is an active principle, which will be working one way or other; your thoughts will be going on one thing or other; and therefore the bare consideration is no great labour to you. And if you must lay out your thoughts on something, is it not better lay them out on these things, than on any other? Have you any better matters to think on than these? Have you any greater matters, or matters of greater necessity to think of? You cannot sure imagine it; at least you will not say so for shame. This makes your inconsiderateness an inexcusable sin. If thinking were toil to you, it were another matter. But when you must think of something, why not of God, and your eternal state, and the way to heaven, as well as of other matters? Will you rather throw away your thoughts, than God shall have them? If a man command his servant that is lame, to go on his business, the refuser hath a good excuse : 'I cannot go, or not without a great pain and danger:' but if he have a son or a servant that is so wanton that he cannot stand on his legs, but spends his time in running up and down, and dancing, and leaping, this person hath no excuse, if he will refuse to go on his master's or his father's errand; but will gad about on his pleasure all day, and will not go a few steps when he is bidden ; especially if it were for his own life or welfare. So when you have thoughts that will not be kept idle, but will be gadding abroad through the world, and yet you will not think of God, and the matters of your peace, what wilfulness is this? If you should ask one that hath it not, for meat, or drink, or money, they might well deny you. But if you ask these, of one that hath abundance, and knows not what to do with them, but would throw them down the channel, rather than you should have them, what
would you think of such an one ? Especially if it were your servant or your child that owed you much more? Thus do you by God and your own souls. You have thoughts enough and to spare, you know not what to do with them ; and yet rather than you will spend one hour in a day or a week in serious thoughts of the state of your souls and the life to come, you will cast them away upon news, and tales, and other folk's business that do not concern you; yea, you will cast them down the sink of covetousness, and malice, and last, and wantonness, and make them servants to the devil and the flesh. If you have a brook running by your land, you will endeavour to turn it over your ground, that seeing it must run, it may as well run that way where it may do good, as run in vain : so when your thoughts must run, is it not better that you turn them to your own hearts, and states, to prepare for the world that you are ready to step into, than to let them run in vain ? If you see a man go in to a wine cellar (though it be his own) and pull out all the spigots, and let all the wine run about the cellar, and suffer nobody to catch it, or be the better for it, what would you conceive of the wisdom or charity of that man? Your thoughts are a thing more precious than wine, and such a thing as should not be spilt; and yet is not this your every day's practice? You are before him that knows your thoughts : deny it if you can.
What hour of the day can a - man come to you and find your thoughts altogether idle? What minute of an hour can a man come and ask you what are you now thinking on, and you can truly say, Nothing ? I know as long as you are awake, you are always thinking of somewhat (and perhaps when you are asleep) and what is it on? This body shall have a thought, and that body a thought; every word you hear, and every wrong that is done you, and almost every thing you look upon, shall have a thought; and God and your own salvation shall have none; that is, you will lose them, and let them run in waste; but you will do no good with them, nor take in any profit by them to yourselves.
6. Have you any thing that better deserves your consideration, than God and your salvation ? Certainly God hath more right to your thoughts than any thing else that you can place them on. Your flesh, your friends, your worldly business are neither so honourable, so necessary, or so pro
fitable subjects, as God and heaven are. As there is more profit to be got by the tillage of fruitful land, than barren heath; or by digging in a mine of gold, than in a clay-pit; so is there more pleasure and profit to be gotten in one hour's serious thoughts of your salvation, than in thinking all your lifetime of the world.
7. At least, methinks you should consider, how disproportionably and unequally you lay out your thoughts. Cannot you spare God the tenth; no, nor the hundredth part of them? Look back upon your lives, and trace your thoughts from day to day, and tell me how many hours in a week, in a month, in a year, you have spent in serious thoughts of the state of your souls, and of the life to come? Is it one hour of a hundred, of a thousand, of ten thousand, with some of you that is thus spent ? Nay, I have very great cause to fear that there are some, yea, that there are many, yea,
that there is far the greatest number, that never spent one hour since they were born, in withdrawing themselves purposely from all other business, and soberly and in good sadness bethinking themselves what case they are in, what evidence they have of their salvation, or how they must be justified at the bar of God; no, nor what business they have in the world, and to what end they were made, and how they have done the work that they were made for. Ah! sirs, doth conscience justify you in this? Or rather will it not torment you one day to remember it? What! did thy land, and livings, worldly matters deserve all thy thoughts, and did not the saving of thy soul deserve some of them? Did thy lusts, and sports, and wantonness deserve all? and did not God deserve some of them? Was it not worth now and then an hour's time, no, nor one hour's study in all thy life, to bethink thee in good sadness how to make sure of a life of endless joy or glory, and how to escape the flames of hell ? This is not an equal distribution of thy thoughts, as thou wilt confess at last in the horror of thy soul.
8. It is the end of your present time and warnings, that you may consider and prepare for your everlasting state. What have you to do on earth but to consider how to get well to heaven? O that you did but know what a mercy it is, before you enter upon an endless life, to have but time to bethink you of it, and to make your election sure! If you were to be called away suddenly, this night, and the angel of
the Lord should say to any of you, ‘Prepare, for within this hour thou must die, and appear before the living God:' then would you not cry out,“O, not so suddenly Lord! Let me have a little more time to consider of my condition : let me have one month longer, to bethink me of the case of my soul, and make sure that I am justified from the guilt of my sins. Let me have one day more at least to prepare
for lasting state ; for alas, I am yet unready. Would not these be your cries, if God should call you presently away? And yet now you have time, you will not consider of these matters and prepare.
9. Moreover, is it not time for you to consider your ways, when God doth consider them? If he would forget them, or did not regard them, you might regard them the less yourselves : but be sure of it, he doth observe them, whether you do or not; and he remembereth them though you forget them. Dost thou not know that all the sins of thy life are still on record before the Lord ? Saith Job, “ Thou numberest my steps; dost thou not watch over my sin ? My transgresion is sealed up in a bag, and thou sowest up mine iniquity;" Job xiv. 16, 17. Do you think that God forgets your sins, as you forget them? Saith the Lord by the prophet Hosea, “They consider not in their hearts, that I remember all their wickedness; now their doings have beset them about, they are before my face;" Hosea vii. 2. But you will say, What if God clo consider our ways? why surely then it is not for nothing, but evil is near if not prevented. As the Lord saith in Deut. xxxii. 34, 35. “Is not this'laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures ? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time. For the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” If God be registering up thy sins, thou hast cause to tremble, to think what that portends : " for in this hardness and impenitency of thy heart, thou art treasuring up wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Rom. ii. 5. As grace is the seed of glory, so sin is the seed of shame, and trouble, and everlasting torment; and though it may seem long before the harvest, you will taste the bitter fruit at last; and whatsoever you have sowed, that
shall you reap.
10. Moreover, if any thing ailed you, you look that God